This article has been on my mind for some time, and I realized that by writing it on New Year’s Day, perhaps it could help others to launch or re-launch their workout in the new year. Heck, that’s what I’m doing!

Suzanne Safran

(Above, Rashawn Smith & Suzanne Safran)

It isn’t every day that you find a workout you can actually say you LOVE. Wait, did I really just say that about ANY workout? Ok, I did. Truth be told, it isn’t like I wake up thinking, “Oh boy, I can’t WAIT to go to the gym!” But here’s where my Zumba teachers come in and why they matter so much. They’re more than teachers. They’re coaches. They’re guides. They’re the ones who motivate me to SHOW UP.

Flashback to high school musicals and dance routines learned from New York choreographers, I suppose I’ve had a lifelong love of dancing. I do east coast swing dancing, zydeco, cajun, and some salsa whenever I get the chance (partners wanted!), and my parents even met at a dance. When I found Zumba a few years ago, I FINALLY found a workout that I could actually say I enjoy. I know. I still don’t believe it. I first started going to David’s infamous Zumba classes on the farm where you could actually visit the sheep and the goats before heading upstairs to the studio. When he moved on to work with the Zumba Instructor Network worldwide, I found Cornerstone Gym and have been going there ever since. However, despite the fact that I like the workout and I know it’s good for me and all that, there are still times when I’ve slacked or found excuses, and there’s no getting around it. I suppose it’s human nature, and the statistics on gym dropouts probably corroborates that. But something is different here. I haven’t dropped out. And at times when I’ve slacked, one of the things that gets me back to the Zumba floor is knowing that I’ll always receive a smile and encouragement from the teachers, (as well as the friendly faces in the class). THIS MATTERS.

Zumba is fun, and heck yeah, you’re dancing like crazy! I always feel better when I make the decision to go, and I’ve also found that it’s a great place for ideas and creative thinking. Sometimes I’ll get a great business idea in the middle of a routine. Double bonus!! Zumba is a fantastic workout and anyone who thinks you won’t sweat hasn’t been there. Whether it’s Rashawn reminding us to “grab a sip” during the workout, Suzanne saying, “Squeeze that belly!” or the equally exuberant enthusiasm of Shari and Mary, my Zumba teachers provide just what I need to motivate me to KEEP GOING.

Shari Booth     Mary_Tawa

(Above: Shari Booth & Mary Tawa)

I think the best teachers are coaches and the best coaches are teachers. In other words, it’s really one and the same, or it should be in the best sense of the words. I’ve completed four walking marathons with the Leukemia/Lymphoma’s Team in Training program (three full 26.2 mile marathons, and a “halfathon” as I call it at 13.1 miles) and I can honestly tell you that if it weren’t for my coaches, I’m not sure it would have happened. My first marathon was in 1996 and I’m friends with my coach Jeff to this day.

Whether it’s a Zumba teacher, training coach, or a good friend, when you’re having a rough time, they lift you up. When you think you CAN’T, they remind you that you CAN. And whether it’s tough love or silly humor, they seem to know just the right time to give it. What I’ve learned from my Zumba teachers is to never give up. Ok, maybe I already knew that, but my Zumba teachers help to remind me of it all the time, whether they even realize it or not, and I’m eternally grateful.

They smile, they encourage, they dance, and they care.


(For the record, there are many additional wonderful Zumba teachers at Cornerstone Gym. These are the ones that I know.)